Eco-Travel Gear 2013 ~ The Best of the Best
Each year Balifornian scours the globe for the best, most innovative and most ecologically conscious travel products. Throughout the year we test and review dozens of products and now we can reveal the very best eco-travel gear for 2013.
The first category is…
Best Sustainable Eco-Travel Product of 2013
The nominees include:
This small handheld device, about the size of a small flashlight, will purify 16 ounces of water in a minute and a half. Its debatable if this is the best and safest method of water purification, but its small, runs on a 4 AA batteries and is perfect for travel. Combine it with the second nominee and its even more eco-travel friendly.
The name says it all, AA batteries that plug into any USB enabled device and recharge. An eco-friendly alternative to disposable batteries and no extra charger is needed.
Grow your own plates. Well, not exactly but you can buy biodegradable, eco-friendly dinning ware. This great looking “plastic-like” dinner set is durable, dishwasher safe, and good for the environment. Grown from a renewable resource, organic corn, with no BPA, phthalates, or petroleum. A sustainable product that does not leach chemicals into our food or the environment.
Use this in conjunction with our next nominee for a fully sustainable dining experience.
Reusable bamboo utensils. A complete set of great looking, sustainable, and good for the environment utensils; includes a spoon, knife, fork and even chopsticks. Comes with a carabiner and a recycled holder too.
This solar powered inflatable light comes in handy while traveling. Its highly portable, water-resistant and can even be used as a pillow.
… And the winner is…
The winner was chosen for its simplicity, ease of use, and it solves one of the most pressing problems here in Bali and worldwide.
The Reusable, Collapsable Water Bottle.
Its PBA-free, uses FDA approved polyethylene and has a smaller carbon footprint than regular water bottles. You can read all about it in our Eco-Travel Gear of the Year ~ Sustainable Travel Product
Our next category for Eco-Travel Gear of the year is the best surf product.
Surfing can be considered very green as one does not require much gear at all, just a board and some great waves. What could be more in rhythm with nature? While this is true, many of todays boards are made from noxious chemicals and materials. Some companies are working hard to limit and even eliminate materials that are not eco-friendly.
The nominees include:
This protective surf vest made from eco-conscious materials solves a problem encountered by many surfers, rib pain. For a complete review see our Eco-Travel Gear of the Year 2013 ~ Surf Nominee review.
This 100% eco-friendly surf wax is non-toxic, biodegradable, and even the labels are made from recycled paper and printed with soy based inks. Works well and smells great too.
…And the winner is…
A high performance surfboard made from eco-friendly materials including 100% Recycled EPS Foam, a hemp tail patch, epoxy made from bio-derived components from both pine and vegetable oils, and sustainable Bamboo Fins.
The next category for Eco-Travel gear of the year is photography
Here we clearly buck the trend. The future of photography has been glimpsed this year and massive changes are happening quickly. The two horse race of Canon and Nikon has been blown apart, and other manufacturers are now producing superior products. Bigger is clearly not better in this case. Bigger cameras require mare materials, more shipping, more waste and its been made clear that none of this makes for better image quality.
The nominees in travel photography include…
I almost feel guilty using this tiny but powerful camera to shoot surf or scuba photography. My predecessors nearly drown struggling with the weight and monolithic size of underwater cameras to get great shots. Today I can get right in the curl with the surfers and capture high quality photos more easily and safely than my forebears. The quality for such a tiny unit consistently amazes me. Plus, I love the bewildered looks I get when I attach it to my motorbike helmet and ride around small villages in Bali.
Combine your GoPro with our next nominee for some out of the world images.
OK, this is not directly eco-friendly, but it is an advancement in travel photography that is worth discussing. Everyone seems to be talking about drones and their scary applications. Here is a use that can provide stunning and educational images. And lets face it, its a super cool toy.
While this camera is not a complete game-changer like our winner is, I like the direction Nikon is going with this camera. As we discuss in detail for our eco-travel photography winner, smaller is better. While the GoPro is even smaller, Nikon’s offering has better quality and is a much more advanced camera. It even has interchangeable lenses.
…And the winner is…
This camera is indeed a game-changer. I joined the many pro travel photographers who ditched their Canon and Nikon arsenals for this new category of small mirrorless wonders. I give a much more detailed review of this camera in our Eco-Travel Gear of the Year 2013 ~ Photography Nominee review. Check it out, it may change your entire view of photography and save you a boatload of money as well.
Eco-travel often includes barely bearable air travel. An industry unlike any other, and in fact, works in exactly opposite ways of responsible companies. I recall watching an old episode of Sanford and Son a couple years ago in which a character explained that it took him four hours to travel from New York to California. This was 40 years ago! Not only has this not improved by a second, it has gotten much worse with incomprehensible and ineffectual policies and practices of the TSA. I digress.
To make these flights a bit more tolerable as well as green, I present our nominees for
The Eco-Travel In-Flight Gear of the Year
Our first nominee is The Travel Halo.
A handy pillow for the plane that doesn’t knot your neck. For a complete review please see our Travel Gear of the year 2013 ~ In-Flight Product of the Year Nominee review
This toothbrush is made from recycled yogurt cups and they even have a return program for complete full circle recycling.
…And the winner is…
I know its not an original choice but in all my days of travel, I have yet to find a device that has more applications, is more handy and lets me listen to Bob Marley whenever I feel the need.
We now move on the categories for eco-travel clothing.
Eco-Travel Clothing Gear of the Year
And the nominees are…
Exofficio makes another appearance this year in our eco-travel gear awards. They make great travel products and this time its not underwear. We normally focus on tropical travel but this product deserves a mention for its versatility. It is a warm, lightweight and water resistant jacket but it also turns into a travel pillow and a stuff sack. Pretty cool!
For years, Prana has been one of my favorite manufactures for active clothing for yoga, rock climbing and other activities that require stretch and strength. Their clothes fit great, last, breathe and stretch. They also understand the importance of pockets; Pockets that are large enough and close well enough to be secure, which for me, is a crucial element for travel clothing. This pant is made from 98% Organic Cotton and 2% Spandex.
…And the winner is…
While the big companies make some great gear. We like to support the small family run business. Howler Bros can compete with the biggest manufacturers, have dope designs, are eco-friendly and have a monkey for the logo. How can you go wrong? For complete details and images see our Travel Gear of the Year 2013 ~ Eco-Travel Clothing Nominee review.
Footwear comfort and functionality is always an underrated aspect. While traveling, your feet are one of your most important attributes and its crucial to take care of them or you will not see much of what you came to experience.
The nominees for best eco-travel gear in the footwear category are..
Toms gear is truly sustainable. They integrate materials whose growth, manufacture and recycle creates a small environmental footprint. Their products include organic cotton, recycled PET (from plastic bottles), and hemp. These shoes are vegan friendly and in no way harm any animals (unless, I guess, you step on them).
I hesitate to nominate the next product as they are nowhere near as eco-friendly as the other nominees, but they are great shoes for Bali’s tropical climate, beaches, rivers and villages.
These lightweight shoes provide excellent traction while allowing air to circulate and water to escape, but there are more environmentally conscious options available such as our winner.
…And the winner is…
The Astral Brewer Water Shoe is perhaps the ultimate tropical travel shoe. Its made for kayaking and river sports but its super sticky soles can adhere to almost any possibly dangerous surface. The only problem with great sticky treads is that dust and other debris can stick to it and make safe conditions like a smooth floor harder to navigate. this doesn’t happen much and is easily remedied but something worth mentioning. Enough of the downside of this versatile shoe. Its superb, is lightweight, breathable and looks really dope as well. The later I care about least but it is nice when you can wear your travel shoes out to a nice dinner. Plus it is produced in an eco-friendly manner with sustainable materials. For a complete review please see our Travel Gear of the year 2013 ~ Eco-Travel Footwear review
And finally the solar eco-travel product of the year
The first nominee is
LuminAID The solar light/travel pillow received a nomination above but it is worth mentioning here because of the humanitarian work the company does. If you pay just a bit more when ordering, the company will donate one to an impoverished village without electricity.
Next is the Gomadic Sunstash. A portable yet powerful monocrystalline solar panel, about the size of a lightweight laptop, can recharge just about all your gear, your phone, camera and even your laptop. It comes with a lightweight water-resistant carrying case and a powerful 60W Lithium Polymer rechargeable power pack.
…And the winner is…
The SolarMonkey Adventurer. While it does not charge laptops (yet), it will charge your smartphone, GoPro, cameras and other small electronics, it is highly portable. The Sunstash above is excellent and has more power but you need to stop and set it up. If you will be sedentary for several hours its great but where the SolarMonkey excels is that it can be clipped to a backpack, with the included carabiner, and left to charge all the time. For a more complete review, please see our Eco-Travel Gear of the year 2013 ~ Solar Product of the Year review.
Full disclosure: Several manufactures sent me their products to test free of charge and with no stipulations. Financial compensation was not received for this, or any other, post. Opinions expressed here are my own. Companies that provided samples did not always win or receive positive reviews. Read our full disclosure policy.
For past travel gear reviews please check our essential travel packing list and here is a great list of gear for photographers.
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